“Plans to protect air and water, wilderness and wildlife are in fact plans to protect man” Stewart Udall.
Who doesn’t like fresh air? Everyone would like to walk out of their house and not have to deal with the odour of something burning or the potential of breathing in air that would be harmful to their lungs.
Real quick, please do something for me: Breathe in and out. Now, close your eyes and go to your happy place. “Breeze” is flowing, the air is fresh and everything seems simply normal and perfect. Now, open your eyes. (How awesome was that?! I tend to try that as a stress reliever all the time and it works). But imagine that there is constant burning around you, you try to breathe but the air is choking and uncomfortable. There are particles of ash and soot floating in the air and you are probably thinking to yourself – how can anyone survive here?
Now lastly, check out Akala-Olu; a community that has been affected by a process calledGas Flaring for over 35 years!
To tap oil/crude oil from the earth, you have to pass through natural gas, which is more often than none, set on fire (flared) when there are no plans of what to do with it. The flaring of natural gas can be good when there is a lot of pressure in the gas pipes or when the pipes need maintenance but when the gas is just left to burn, the resultant impacts are disastrous.
See some facts on Gas Flaring below:
Air pollution through gas flaring and venting has been alleged to be responsible for various health and environmental problems plaguing the Niger Delta region. Accordingly, the restive youths in these communities have constituted themselves into all kinds of nuisances to the operating oil companies, the government and the public. (Mmom 2003; Floyd and Ekpoh 2003).
Multiple studies on inhalation exposure to petroleum hydrocarbons in occupational settings as well as residences near refineries, oil spills and petrol stations indicate an increased risk of eye irritation and headaches, asthma symptoms, acute childhood leukemia, acute myelogenous leukemia, and multiple myeloma (Glass et al., 2003; Kirkeleit et al., 2008; Brosselin et al., 2009; Kim et al., 2009).
Though the flaring of gas is sometimes necessary, but we don’t need a constant fire for over 35 years! The health of the members communities in these areas are at risk and Nigeria can surely do better. We can do better and we have the capacity to. (Also don’t be judgmental and say oh Nigeria does not have the manpower or the money because if you really think about it we do, trust me we do).
I would be writing again, but this time, more specifically on how we can reduce gas flaring and save many lives.
Brosselin P, Rudant J, Orsi L, Leverger G, Baruchel A, Bertrand Y, et al. Acute Childhood Leukaemia and Residence Next to Petrol Stations and Automotive Repair Garages: the ESCALE study (SFCE). Occup Environ Med 2009;66(9):598–606.
Floyd BN, Ekpoh IJ (2003) Environment: Continuity and Change. St Paul’s Publishing and Printing Company Ltd; Calabar, Nigeria.
Glass DC, Gray CN, Jolley DJ, Gibbons C, Sim MR, Fritschi L, et al. Leukemia Risk Associated with Low-Level Benzene Exposure. Epidemiology 2003;14(5):569–77.
Kim BM, Park EK, LeeAn SY, Ha M, Kim EJ, Kwon H, et al. BTEX exposure and its health effects in pregnant women following the Hebei spirit oil spill. J Prev Med Public Health Yebang Uihakhoe Chi 2009;42(2):96-103.
Kirkeleit J, Riise T, Bråtveit M, Moen B. Increased risk of acute myelogenous leukemia and multiple myeloma in a historical cohort of upstream petroleum workers exposed to crude oil. Cancer Causes Control 2008;19(1):13–23.
Mmom PC (2003) The Niger Delta: A spatial perspective to its development. Crystal Creation Publishers, Port Harcourt, Nigeria.